Idea alert

Deborah Coyne looks abroad.

We need to rethink how government should work with the social sector to overcome the inertia of a bureaucratic, rule-bound public sector. We should open up public services to new providers like charities, social enterprises, and private companies with the goal of increased social innovation, diversity, and responsiveness to public need.

One model of this kind of forward thinking is Barack Obama’s Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. Through the Social Innovation Fund, this department is creating new partnerships among government, private capital, social entrepreneurs, and the public.

Another model, the British “Social Impact Bond,” facilitates considerable up-front funding to non-profit organizations to create successful models for helping the young or the elderly. This Dragon’s Den approach secures long-term funds for promising ideas, with public investment tied to positive social, environmental, or economic benefits.

The Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation is online here. Last month, the British government launched a pilot project aimed at prisoner reform.